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Mount Greylock Superintendent Jason McCandless, seen at 2022's graduation, tendered his resignation last week; the School Committee is holding a special meeting Wednesday night to discuss next steps.
Updated May 21, 2024 12:39PM

Mount Greylock's McCandless Announces Resignation

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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Updated on Tuesday afternoon to clarify Rose Ellis' tenure as superintendent in Williamstown and Lanesborough.
 
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — For the fourth time in the last 10 years, the Mount Greylock Regional School District will be looking for a new permanent superintendent.
 
After four years at the helm and just one year into his current contract, Jason McCandless is stepping down.
 
The regional School Committee has a special meeting scheduled for Wednesday night with a brief but significant agenda. Item four on the agenda: to discuss the resignations of the superintendent and the principal at Williamstown Elementary School.
 
Item five refers to the next steps for the committee, including, perhaps, hiring another interim superintendent to lead the Lanesborough-Williamstown district.
 
McCandless made his announcement on Friday in an email to the district's "families and friends."
 
"It's with a heavy heart that I write to share with you that I will be resigning as superintendent following the end of the school year," the email begins.
 
McCandless' email gives no indication of his reason for leaving. Instead, it characteristically thanks those he served for giving him the opportunity in a position he has held since 2020.
 
"Our children deserve great people in their academic and emotional lives," McCandless wrote. "They deserve them, and they have them. The Mount Greylock community has tremendous gifts in its children and tremendous gifts in those who help those children learn and grow in each of your schools."
 
McCandless' announcement came a little more than a week after an emotional School Committee meeting that focused on incidents of racial bias at the district's schools and included frank comments from McCandless, who made a campaign of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging a cornerstone of his administration.
 
"I will say that Mount Greylock has presented challenges unlike any place I have ever been in terms of being flummoxed at times over, 'What do we need to do?' sometimes with the adults and sometimes with the students, to get people to not engage in blatantly racist language and practices," said McCandless, who served as superintendent in Lee and Pittsfield before arriving in at Mount Greylock. "And I would add to racist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, treating people who are perceived as poor as less than human, treating people with disabilities as less than human.
 
"I have convictions that come from a much deeper place than simply being an educator about the value of every human being. Listening to the six speakers tonight was as hard for me to hear as it was for you to hear."
 
McCandless' successor — whether interim or permanent — will be the sixth person to occupy the corner office since the retirement of Rose Ellis in 2014 after 14 years as an area administrator -- first at Williamstown Elementary School in 2000, starting in 2008 as the superintendent of both Williamstown and Lanesborough and, starting in 2010, as the superintendent of all three schools under a shared services agreement.
 
Ellis' immediate successor was Gordon Noseworthy, who served from January to June in 2015.
 
The School Committee then hired Doug Dias, who left under a cloud about a year and a half into the job.
 
Kimberley Grady, who served as assistant superintendent under Dias, was named acting superintendent, then interim superintendent and later permanent superintendent, a job she held from the spring of 2018 until the summer of 2020.
 
Robert Putnam served as interim superintendent after Grady's departure.
 
McCandless was hired away from the Pittsfield Public Schools later that summer. He renewed his contract with the district in October 2023.
 
When outlining his goals to the School Committee in February, he spoke about the next three to four years.
 
"My intention is to be here for most of my current contract, because it's a pleasure and an honor to be here," he said.

Tags: resignation,   superintendent,   

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Pittsfield Council Passes $216M Budget, Cuts Schools

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council closed budget season just before 10 p.m. on Tuesday, approving a $216 million spending plan for fiscal year 2025. This includes a cut to the School Department.

Councilors approved a $215,955,210 spending plan that is a 5 percent increase from this year and includes a $200,000 reduction to the $82 million Pittsfield Public School budget. The budget passed 10-1 with Ward 2 Councilor Brittany Noto in opposition.

All conversation was related to the schools, as droves of staff members came to council chambers believing this was a direct slash to positions. It was agreed that misinformation sparked the uprising and was attributed to a "divide" between the school district and the council.

"The amount of misinformation that happened, I don't want to dig into how it happened but it is concerning," Ward 6 Councilor Dina Lampiasi said.

"And when I look at the emails that I received over the last several days from parents and people who are in the School Department, it's apparent to me that there is a divide here and there are a lot of people that agree with us that something isn't working."

Councilor at Large Earl Persip III emphasized that there should be a focus on communication — noting that Superintendent Joseph Curtis has communicated more than previous holders of his title.

"I think there is something missing from what you guys have said to us and from what we hear and that's where we struggle," he said.

Curtis maintained that a staff email he sent out was purely informational and did not make unsound claims, noting that "certainly this was an incredibly complex budget season." The FY25 spending plan includes the reduction of 53 positions, some related to the sunsetting of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds.

"There was no negativity put forward," he said. "There was a recounting of what happened and some possible next steps in the process because I feel it's incredibly important for the school community to know the process."

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